Review: Nomos Club Campus

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The Nomos Club Campus is something of a quirky one. The original Nomos Club can cite a relatively classic and simple dial as part of its strong visual appeal, yet the Campus simply doesn’t follow suit. Here, Nomos threw up a curveball, ramping up the playfulness to create a familiar, yet ultimately different dial aesthetic that was sure to divide enthusiasts between those who love it and those who don’t.

The Campus name and temperate color combinations of the series are supposed to make it perfect gift for any graduate, with a tacit understanding that this series of watches is deliberately unisex. Now, Nomos itself was less than halfway through its existence to date back when I graduated, and I don’t think I was expecting a four-figure watch as a gift anyway, but that shouldn’t preclude me from trying one now.

Today, I’m taking a closer look at the Club Campus, a watch I picked up last year, to see how it holds up against its older and more classic brother.

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$1500

Review: Nomos Club Campus

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Alpha caliber
Dial
Silvery-white
Lume
Yes – Super-LumiNova
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Suede
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
36mm x 47mm
Thickness
8mm
Lug Width
18mm
Crown
Push/pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1500

If you’ve ever tried on a Nomos Club, then you may well be aware of the unconventional fit brought about by the slightly longer than common lugs. I was left a bit deflated the first time I strapped on a 40-millimeter Club Automat. The diameter would usually suggest a great fit for my wrist and my tastes, but that particular watch failed to deliver. It was only a later crack at the Club, this time the 36-millimeter hand-wind model that I had previously discounted as being too dainty, that gave rise to the goldilocks moment where it all fell into place. That watch fit me just right, and there the longer lugs made sense. That same 36-millimeter case is followed through to the Club Campus we are looking at today.

To illustrate the lengthy feel of the Club, the lugs stretch to almost 47 millimeters from tip-to-tip with an 18-millimeter width between them. The proportions do sound slightly unusual for a traditional case shape, and those proportions are even more noticeable on the wrist. This isn’t meant as a criticism, however. It’s simply an observation that the diameter alone may not be enough for you to determine which version of the Club is right for you. 

Dimensions aside, the case is fairly conventional. Polished throughout, it is elegant in profile, but with the prominent rounded bezel, it feels like the least formal and the most sporty of Nomos’ lineup. You can read our in-depth review of the Club and Club Dunkel here for greater insight into the case, so I’ll skip right onto the defining aspect of this watch—the dial.

Nomos have flipped the California-dial on its head here, with Roman numerals in the lower half of the dial and Arabic in the upper. That alone doesn’t seem like anything too outrageous, and I’ll admit that if you had asked me to describe a California dial before this model was released, I might have been hard pressed to tell you with much confidence which half of the dial contained which style of numerals.

However, when that combination is imposed onto the Club’s alternating pattern of batons and numerals for the hour markers, then it all gets a little more messy. Indeed, with the omission of any kind of marker whatsoever at six o’clock just below the seconds sub-dial, there are only two Roman numerals on show, and one of those (IV) is usually shown quite differently (IIII) on watch and clock dials.

Let’s take a step back to assess. There are six baton hour markers, three Arabic numerals, two Roman numerals, and one hour marker missing altogether. Does that even qualify as a California dial? And yet, despite Nomos liberally playing with well-established convention here, in Nomos’ inevitable way, the dial layout just works.

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From what I’ve seen, the version we have here seems to be one of the less popular colorways of the series, but I quite like it (except for one detail, but more on that below). All of the dial markings, save for the branding and minute/second tracks, are filled with a slightly washed out gray lume and outlined in red. The red outline is so fine that the indices tend to look pink at a glance, but I have found that the right strap pairing can help to bring out the darkness in the dial markers a bit more.

The final risky update (as if another was needed here) is the neon-orange second hand. This is the one part of the design that I struggle to love. It feels deliberately jarring, and though the Club Campus is clearly intended to be playful, the extreme saturation and brightness of the second hand does feel like one step too far.

The other dial options in the Club Campus series are only available in the 38.5-millimeter case. The first features blue-filled hour markers that are a little bolder than the version reviewed here, despite featuring the same fine red outlines. The last option is the dark-dialed “Nacht” variant. Any of the three Campus watches represent a distinct difference from the color scheme of the original Club series.

As far as nighttime visibility is concerned, all the hour markers and both the hour and minute hands are filled with Super-LumiNova and glow a gentle blue. I have found that the lume is not bright enough or long-lasting enough to really get excited about, but it is there.

Considering the watch sits very much at the entry level of the brand, it’s probably no surprise that we’re getting Nomos’ Alpha caliber—a beautiful and proven movement—and not the newer DUW 3001 or something with Nomos’ Swing System inside. As a default, the Campus has a solid case back with a large blank surface—a space deliberately reserved for a personal engraving to mark a graduation or some other special occasion. A display case back is available for a slight surcharge.

The Club Campus comes fitted with a grey suede strap. The softness and muted color is a good match for the overall design, and though the quality of the strap is pretty good, I have to admit that it’s not a look that appeals to me.

I don’t want to harp on too much more about the long lugs—they are, of course, a significant part of what makes the Club line distinct. But there’s a noticeable gap between the strap and case that I am not fond of, and if you’re like me and can’t help but notice the gap between the case and the strap, then you’ll probably want to wear the watch on a single pass strap. Happily, the quirkiness of the dial and general absence of any strong colors (save for the neon-orange hand) leave it wide open to a number of different fun strap options. The watch is also thin enough that an extra piece of fabric sitting beneath the case isn’t going to make it wear tall on the wrist.

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With 100 meters of water resistance, the Nomos Club could easily make for a good everyday watch. Despite the 36-millimeter diameter, flowing polished case, and muted colors, this is not a classic dress watch and shouldn’t be confined to such occasions. With all of the polarizing design choices, this is a watch with bags of personality, but it still feels slightly overshadowed by its older brother, the classic Club, which is a shame. The Club Campus is a great watch in its own right, and starting at $1,500, it’s pretty good value, too. Nomos

Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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